Getting crazy with Rotate Copies in Sketch

4 min read
Joseph Angelo Todaro  •  Aug 7, 2017
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Updated 8/7/2017: For those who prefer reading to watching, we’ve added a step-by-step guide with GIFs. Enjoy!

Being that Sketch is a vector drawing application, it has some nifty tools for creating awesome shapes.

One of my favorites is a tool called Rotate Copies. It’s used to make a ring of copies around a center point—which is a great way to create radial patterns like clocks and gears.

Read on for a short Sketch tutorial on creating rotate copies with different shapes.

Things start to get interesting if you use different shapes and overlap the copies. Let’s try a square, as a quick experiment. First, use this Sketch shortcut to add Rotate Copies to your toolbar.

Choose View > Customize toolbar > then drag the icon to the toolbar

Now with the sample square selected, choose Rotate Copies. This opens a dialog box to choose how many copies you want to make. One thing to note here is that you’re entering how many additional copies you’d like to make. So if you want an even number of objects, add an odd number of copies.

Now, after adding my additional copies, 2 things have happened. Each copy is revolving around a center point, and each copy has been rotated around the center point.

Now, when you drag the handle to move the center point, the revolution of the group follows—but the rotation of each object remains the same. This makes for some really interesting geometric shapes when you bring the center point in to overlap the shapes.

When you click away, it combines all the layers into 1 with the Union operation, which can still be broken apart and edited whenever you’d like.

Related: Using Boolean operations in Sketch

Let’s give it a go with another shape. For this crescent, I’ll choose 5 additional copies. As I rotate them, you can see how many interesting shapes are created in the process. Icons and even potential logos begin to emerge out of nowhere.

But what happens when you rotate 8 copies of a dumbbell? Well, a snowflake of course.

If you ask me, I’d say that easily puts Sketch in the top 10 UI design apps for creating snowflakes out of dumbbells.

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